Making it sound clear, the Government said that there is no restriction on voice calls made through OTT mobile applications like Skype, WhatsApp and Google Duo etc, and there is no requirement for a policy to facilitate cheaper calls through them.
“There is no restriction on App based calls at present. Hence, in the view of the DoT, there is no policy required to be under consideration in the government,” Manoj Sinha, the Minister of Communication said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
Over the past few months, telcos and other parties were echoing the need to control and restrict voice calling through mobile apps, as it was eating into their regular voice calling revenue. The telcos were losing big chunk of money as people resorted to these mobile apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Google Duo to make cheap and free international voice calls.
The minister was replying to a query “whether the telecom ministry would consider providing the facility of app-based and cheaper calls to customers by formulating feasible policy for app-based calls,” as per media report.
The minister also said that over-the-top (OTT) apps offer voice calls on data and in the current situation cost of data is drastically coming down. Thus the app-based calls have become a much cheaper option for the customer, especially for international calling.
Indian telcos through Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) opposed OTT services on the ground that some of the services being offered by OTT players are somewhat substitutes for the services being offered by telcos, like the VOIP and instant messaging. So, according to the telcos, this has created a non-level playing field because OTT providers don’t need a license and regulatory restrictions or liabilities or obligations.